Kugai Kudou’s plans had been put to a end.
The Bodhi tree towering over Zawame disappeared, as if it had all been an illusion.
All of the people who had disappeared were returned to reality, as if nothing had happened. None of them had any memory of being brainwashed by Kugai Kudou in the first place. The popular subjective opinion was that “nothing actually happened”.
But because the Bodhi tree had destroyed a wide area around the underground floodway, Zawame’s reconstruction would require even more time and budget, which caused major trouble for the city (the official explanation was that there had been an accidental explosion in the underground floodway).
All of the Pomegranate Lockseeds scattered around the world ceased functioning. They were unlikely to pose any more danger, but it would still be a severe problem if Black Bodhi’s Lockseed production technology were to leak out. There had even been some concerning recent events among some secret societies, ones that could potentially have connections to Yggdrasill remnants. Takatora Kureshima’s battle was not over yet.
Oren was absent from Charmant more often than ever before. He was most likely helping Takatora in his fight against the Yggdrasill remnants. The battle of Oren Pierre Alfonzo, the world’s greatest pastry chef, still continued on.
Of course, Oren was able to be away from the shop so often because his disciple, Jounouchi, was trustworthy enough to handle things in his absence.
Hideyasu Jounouchi. His battlefield was in Charmant’s kitchen. But now, he was once again in possession of a Sengoku Driver. If another crisis fell upon them, he would resume his fight as the ever-persistent Armored Rider.
Zack had long suffered from the aftereffects of his injuries — in practice, psychological ones. But through everything between the Neo Baron incident and this one, he had once again become a little stronger.
Zack could still remember his last conversation with Kaito. He wanted to remain strong enough to make him proud. Zack’s silent battle continued on in his heart.
Whenever a major incident occurred, Mitsuzane would sometimes assist his brother Takatora, and even fight alongside him. But as a university student, his main duty was to study. Before, he had only been learning because his brother had told him to. But now, he was the one to choose what he would learn.
He would live by his own will. It was a rather small battle compared to the ones he had fought in the past. But it was, without a doubt, Mitsuzane Kureshima’s own battle.
On that day, Mitsuzane was sitting on a park bench in his free time between university lectures, reading a thick paperback book he’d been wanting to read for a while.
Hearing lively voices in the background, he raised his head and saw several children practicing street dancing in the distance.
They were obviously self-taught and their movements were clumsy, and their technical abilities were hardly worthy of praise, but it was clear they were all doing their best.
“Hey, your timing was off just now!”
“I only fell out of sync ’cause you did!”
A fight had broken out over a trivial matter. One child, looking disgruntled, left the dance circle and started playing a game on his phone at a far distance from them.
Seeing it all happen in front of him, Mitsuzane had a pained smile on his face. He considered calling out to them, but just then, the other children approached the irritable child and started dancing playfully in front of him.
“Yo, yo, don’t be mad, cheer up, okay, let’s dance together, yo ♪”
“The heck is that?”
The child burst into laughter and joined the dance circle again, and the group resumed their practice.
As he watched the children dancing, Mitsuzane was reminded of his time dancing with Team Gaim, and he couldn’t help but smile.
— Maybe I really should dance with everyone again.
As he thought that, he looked around.
It was an average day where nothing in particular was happening, but that was exactly what made it so irreplaceable to him.
He looked up at the cloudless blue sky.
Mitsuzane Kureshima made his wish. May this blue sky somehow reach them.
May it reach that star far, far away from Earth — for those people he treasured so dearly.
“I do think I understand a little about how Kugai Kudou felt, because I was also wandering between gaps in the worlds until you came and got me.”
He quietly listened to what to the girl beside him was saying.
He looked up at the sky. The planet around him had once been a barren world devoid of even light, but it was now full of nature that flourished with life, with a vast blue sky spreading everywhere.
“There was probably only one real difference between him and us — we have friends, and he didn’t.”
He agreed with her words. Whenever he thought of his friends in the hometown of his youth, those thoughts filled him with strength.
Thanks to that, he could still fight. No matter how many tears he shed, he could still keep moving forward.
— That’s why I don’t think this world is hell.
Just then, his transcendent perception caught onto something.
He stood up and opened a Crack. On the other side was — yet another new battlefield.
“…Is someone calling you again?”
He nodded. He still didn’t know who it was.
But he had made a vow. A prayer to protect. An oath to never abandon. That was everything he was made of.
So it doesn’t matter who it is. I’ll use this power to put an end to the sadness.
— All right, let’s go. I’ll rush in like a knight1, faster than anyone else.
And today, the gold of his heart shone once again —
This is my stage now!
- Written “knight” in the text, with furigana instructing to read it as “Rider”.